Even putting aside the ridiculous premise, I didn't really have that… MoreEven putting aside the ridiculous premise, I didn't really have that much faith going into Luc Besson's latest. The French action legend hasn't made a truly good film since La Femme Nikita back in 1990. That being said, he hasn't made any terrible movies since then either, and this somewhat dubious trend continues with Lucy.
As is the case with most of Besson's work, anyone with half a brain will be able to follow the storylne with little trouble. Lucy unintentionally ingests an experimental drug. This raises her mental capacity to ridiculous heights, effects-driven hijinks ensue. Pretty standard stuff really, and the leaps in logic are so glaringly obvious that ignoring them quickly becomes a distraction (why push cars out of the way you could simply fly over them?).
Granted, this fact does not seem to go unnoticed by the film itself, as several welcome moments of self-awareness manage to slip themselves organically into the storyline. But even knowing of its inherent flaws is not nearly enough to save Lucy from its cliched, high-concept plot and bring action.
The Purge (both Anarchy and its prequel) had so much potential. The… MoreThe Purge (both Anarchy and its prequel) had so much potential. The premise was excellent, seeming ripe for making a thriller filled to the brim with commntary on classism, distribution of wealth, and the effectiveness of law enforcement. Unfortunately, writer/director James DeMonaco seems content to just go straight for the violence, and leave the messages out to dry.
While the first Purge film was a relatively straightforward home-invasion movie, Anarchy is an action-thriller, with bigger scale, a bigger cast, and bigger ideas. The scale part actually works pretty well, showing how society in general reacts to twelve hours of lawlessness. And though it makes for some truly disturbing imagery, as before, the violence and gore still end up taking the stage.
And that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, except that, as in the first film, DeMonaco seems to be a tad timid when it comes to showing truly horrific acts. Take out most of the obscenities, and this film would have had a chance of being PG-13. If the events depicted in Anarchy really happened, people would do far worse than just kill each other, But no, DeMonaco seems content to just stick with highly standard action and horror fare, rather than truly pushing the envelope. Which is a shame, really, because that push could have been all that was needed to help this series realize its full potential.
The 1968 Planet of the Apes is regarded as a science-fiction classic,… MoreThe 1968 Planet of the Apes is regarded as a science-fiction classic, combining sharp satire and Charlton Heston with one of the most well-known twist endings Hollywood has ever seen. The sequels only got crazier (and worse), and once time travel got involved, you knew that it had to stop. Then in 2011, the series got a much-needed fresh start with Rise. And now the sequel is finally here, and it is quite possibly the best film in the entire eight-film series.
During the credits of Rise, there was a little sequence involving the implied spread of a virus known as the simian flu. By Dawn, that virus has all but destroyed the world, reducing the human population to around a tenth of what it once was. In San Francisco, the human colony there is running out of power, and asks the apes to allow access to the nearby dam, thus allowing the two sides to live separately, but peacefully. Of course, it's never that easy.
Due to a string of events which I will not spoil here, the good acting, phenomenal visual effects, precise direction, and almost-Shakespearean script come together in a smart, visceral blockbuster that will surely be remembered as one of 2014's best films.
Scott Derrickson's previous film, Sinister, was one that I hold in… MoreScott Derrickson's previous film, Sinister, was one that I hold in very high regard. It had a great story, haunting visuals, and terrific sound design. His next horror project, the police drama/Exorcist hybrid Deliver Us From Evil, does not reach the high mark set by its predecessor. But it is a suitably entertaining, if heavily cliched, horror adventure that should provide a fix for genre fans parched by the lack of scary movies this summer.
The events that unfold are inspired by the experiences of real-life former NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie, who served as an associate producer on the prooject. And while certain aspects are undoubtedly Hollywooded up for the silver screen (the final scene in particular, though thoroughly mesmerizing, requires a much higher suspension of disbelief than others), the cop side of the film mostly helps to keep the other half grounded in reality. But despite this, as well as raw and unyielding performances from Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez, the cliches hanging out almost everywhere drag the film down, rendering it merely passable, if well-crafted.
The second and third Transformers films were awful. There's no getting… MoreThe second and third Transformers films were awful. There's no getting around it. Lacking any self-awareness, and full of cringe-worthy scenes, both Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon rank among the worst films ever made.
So imagine my surprise when I was watching Age of Extinction, and was actually enjoying myself. It's not a great movie, of course (and it's arguably not even good). But compared to the last two films in the franchise, it's practically a masterpiece.
But that's not to say that it's very dissimilar its predecessors. The human characters are still less human than the robots, the dialogue is dubious (though the ratio of action to dialogue is considerably higher this time), and it can get visually confusing to decipher what's happening onscreen. But these are flaws that the other three movies had as well, and Age of Extinction easily tops all but the first one in terms of pure quality. I had fun, and that's more than I can say for my experience with Michael Bay's last six years.
Comedy sequels are unusual beasts: on one hand, they have to be about… MoreComedy sequels are unusual beasts: on one hand, they have to be about as funny as their predecessors, enough to justify their existence. But on the other, if the humor strays too far from the original, it gets harder to call it a sequel.
Such is the dilemma faced by 22 Jump Street. Seeing its huge box office haul, it's probable that those who wished to see it have done so already. However, for those who haven't, you'll get almost as much enjoyment from watching the first one again. Yes, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are still a great class act, and there are plenty of great comedic moments. But too many of those moments are recycled, and starting to get a bit stale. In this regard, the film is funnier than it perhaps should be, but this is barely enough to keep it afloat.
This really shouldn't have happened. Edge of Tomorrow started out as… MoreThis really shouldn't have happened. Edge of Tomorrow started out as All You Need is Kill, and the first anyone saw of it was a fairly ridiculous-looking shot of Tom Cruise running towards the camera with a giant explosion in the background. The director didn't inspire confidence either (Doug Liman's prior big-budget film was Jumper. The less said, the better), and the premise (Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers) seemed domed to fail from the beginning.
But it didn't, and what we got instead is a funny, uncommonly intellignt sci fi-action film that tells an engrossing story while never taking itself too seriously. The time-loop concept is used extremely well, never repeating footage. It knows that we've gotten the gist already, and to only show what we need to see. It's the rare blockbuster that gives its audience's intelligence the credit it deserves.
Of all the Marvel franchises, the X-Men films have been the most… MoreOf all the Marvel franchises, the X-Men films have been the most erratic, alternating between, great, and mediocre with seemingly every pair of movies released. This trend was bucked when The Wolverine was released last year, and this continues with Days of Future Past, quite possibly the best film in the decade-plus-old series.
Rather than any of the actors, the story is the main star of the show. Flashing between two timelines, Wolverine is sent back in time to prevent an apocalyptic war from ever beginning in the first place. It's engrossing stuff, despite the inevitable leaps in logic and ignorance of one of the basic elements of time travel (which I will not get into now). It all culminates in a riveting and spectacular final sequence that tops anything any of the prior films have pulled out of their sleeves. This is the best X-Men film to date, and gets a full recommendation.
Even if you've never seen a Godzilla film, you know the name. With it… MoreEven if you've never seen a Godzilla film, you know the name. With it comes memories of nuclear destruction, giant monsters, and that godawful 1998 travesty of a movie. This is the first Godzilla film (American or otherwise) in ten years. And now, with a colossal hype train behind it, the king of the monsters is finally back. Was it worth the wait?
Alright, maybe it's not REALLY worth a decade, but the new Godzilla is a damn god film nonetheless. The only major flaw is its slow start. And when I say slow, I mean very, very slow. Sure, a nuclear power plant collapses and the presence of the to-be-revealed creatures is hinted at, but just be prepared for some long stretches of dialogue before anything really picks up.
But once it does, it becomes abundantly clear that Godzilla is arguably the best monster movie of the new millennium. The visual effects are spectacular, and the sound design is sufficient to shake the seats in the theater. It's an experience like nothing else.
It seems like movies based on events described in either the Old or… MoreIt seems like movies based on events described in either the Old or New Testaments are a mixed bag. On one hand, they're stories that everyone has at least some idea about, so the built-in audience is fairly high. But on the other, more often than not, they tend to treat their subject matter as a way to preach to the audience.
Thankfully, Noah does not preach, but chooses merely to tell the story, which is ironically the film's biggest flaw. We all know how this tale begins and ends, as well as a good deal of what's in between. So even though the events that aren't depicted in the source material serve to make the world seem that much more real, they also feel relatively inconsequential in comparison to the whole. And as a result of all this, the runtime feels slightly excessive. But the visuals are stunning and the performances are strong, and in some ways, that's enough.